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https://www.duolingo.com/egjerlow

Matar a vs matar

Hey everyone,

according to DL, these two sentences are fine:

"Matar al pollo"

and

"Matar un pollo".

My question is, why is there an 'a' after matar in the first case, but not the second? I don't think this is a case of the 'personal a' since according to a spanish-speaking friend, you would say 'matar a' in the first case no matter who you were talking about. E.g. "Matar al hombre". "Matar al extranjero".

Does anyone know this? Or is DL simply wrong, and there should be "matar a un pollo" as well? In that case, it's simpler, because then matar would be one of those verbs that always needs 'a'.

Thanks!

3 years ago

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Deliciae
Deliciae
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It seems like the a might be optional when matar is used in a more general sense, like in 'como matar un pollo'. I'm not sure if one way if more right than the other, but if you google them both versions are in frequent use. Hopefully a native can give us a definitive answer. :)

If there's a specific object to it, like the chicken, then I believe the a is required.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

If the chicken was loved pet, the personal 'a' is appropriate. Your friend is correct if it is people that are being killed.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egjerlow

Well, I still lean towards thinking that this is not about the personal 'a', since you would say 'a' no matter what you were killing, apparently, (e.g. matar al dragón).. But I see the example I provided in the OP was wrong, since reading about personal 'a', I see that it goes for any person, not just someone you like/know. Also, it would explain why the definite article has an 'a' but not the indefinite.. So maybe you are right. However, as a counterpoint, google translate sometimes says 'a' even for the indefinite ("matar a un dragón"), in which case the personal 'a' has nothing to do with it, right? Since according to http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/persa.htm, the personal 'a' just applies for definite pronouns..

So it seems like there are two options:

  1. It's indeed the personal 'a' in play here, and google translate is wrong to suggest 'matar a un dragón'
  2. There is some rule that is unknown to me that describes the use of 'a' in the case of this verb, and why both matar un pollo and matar a un pollo can be right..

In any case it would be nice to have input from some natives!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

I have books with long lists of verbs that require certain prepositions after them, and 'matar a' is not on the list. I think that both options Duo lists can be correct, depending on what one thinks of the chicken. I do not think Google translate carries any weight when it comes to issues of grammar. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/egjerlow

Ok, thanks! I am still a bit flabbergasted, since my latino friend says that you would say matar a no matter what, for example (as a figure of speech): Voy a matar al zapato!! So I don't quite get it yet. But I will accept the 'personal a' explanation for now until I see more examples of how matar is used..

3 years ago